It's a bleak day, for I have realised that I am starting to sound like an old person. In pretty much any conversation that revolves around Manchester - its architecture, its shops, its bars and restaurants - I can now almost entirely be relied upon to come up with some meaningless nonsense about how much it's changed since I moved here sometime in the late twentieth century. I've not yet started using the phrase "back in the day", or "when I was a girl", but it's surely just a matter of time now.
And the trouble is, it's all true. Manchester has changed almost beyond all recognition since I was a girl, back in the day - it's still fabulous, just in a different, bigger, shinier way. Not everything quite hits the mark - the disappointing Triangle, the strangely sterile Printworks - but one newly-developed area that IS shaping up very nicely is Spinningfields, snugly tucked away just west of the city centre, between Deansgate and the River Irwell. Many of the restaurants and bars there have already made their name - think Australasia, The Alchemist, The Oast House, Southern Eleven - and now a new series of weekly events aims to drive traffic to the increasingly impressive array of shops there as well.
The first of these was last Thursday, and - frankly - had trouble written all over it from the start. First of all, it was hosted by Kurt Geiger, a shop that sells shoes and bags of such breathtaking beauty that you sometimes - sometimes - forget to look at the price-tag, with often costly results. Secondly, complimentary drinks were provided by the new Yacht Club Bar, and poured with astonishing generosity by a young man who greeted me with a friendly "hello - you were at the Yacht Club last night, weren't you" and merrily poured me all the more (despite my protestations that I would have been at home, studying, or reading, or something, and that he must have got me confused with someone else). Thirdly, there was a 10% discount on the night. And finally, I was attending in the company of two ladies whose - independent - reaction to the 10% discount was something along the lines of "well! practically free then!"
Add this all together, and you have a group of dangerously over-excited ladies, fuelled by large quantities of pink Prosecco, charging around an exquisite shop wanting to buy everything (you can probably take a guess how many shoes we accidentally knocked off the beautiful display you see here during the course of the evening), and lusting after every single item modelled on the thrillingly exciting "shoe catwalk". All I can say is, I'll get a lot of use out of the bag, and the purse, and that if someone were to work out cost-per-wear, it would probably be very reasonable indeed. AND I can offset the value of the items in the cute Molton Brown goody bags that were given out as well - practically free then.
The events will run every Thursday between 6 and 8pm, hosted by different shops on The Avenue, and will each be publicised from the Monday on The Avenue website and also via Twitter and Facebook. Each event is complimentary but you'll need to get your name on the guestlist by dropping them an email to confirm your place. A shoe catwalk? Shopping certainly wasn't this exciting back in my day...